Solving Boston's urban challenges becomes a group effort

Mon, 2013-03-25 16:04 -- Liz Enbysk

The city of Boston, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and Boston University are working with IBM to find new, smarter solutions to persistent urban challenges, including traffic congestion and streetlight management, energy efficiency, major event coordination, and water/sewer and airport management and maintenance.

As the projects progress, IBM says the partners will collaborate on evaluating and deploying solutions identified in the multiple projects, which will employ IBM technology and massive amounts of data from sensors and databases along with analytics software.

Here is a quick overview of the projects and what they are expected to accomplish:

  • The Boston Mayor's Office of Arts, Tourism and Special Events will pilot an intelligent dashboard from IBM to give city officials in all departments a comprehensive view of events occurring in the city. The outcome is expected to be better overall coordination of events with capabilities for smoother traffic management and better public safety performance, as well as finding potential conflicts in event booking before they occur.
  • The city, Boston University and IBM have developed a set of recommendations to leverage and analyze the city's transportation data, and related data-focused projects will continue this year.
  • The city's Public Works Department is working with a new IBM asset management platform to support maintenance and repair of the city's 60,000 streetlights.
  • Boston University's Sustainable Neighborhood Laboratory and IBM are focusing on smarter energy consumption in residential buildings in conjunction with local utility NSTAR and community development groups. The effort is intended to promote energy conservation among building residents and youth.
  • The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority is conducting predictive maintenance with its water and sewer systems. Previous efforts have cut maintenance and work orders by 38%.
  • The state is working on improving maintenance, energy use and space management throughout its 72 million square feet of property and better managing annual work orders.
  • The Massachusetts Port Authority also is working on predictive service and maintenance for Logan International Airport Terminal which includes air conditioning, doors, escalators and other equipment. The port authority plans to take the project to all of its terminals and other assets such as buses.

"We will work with the private sector as well as our public sector partners to improve maintenance, energy and space management in order to make smart infrastructure improvements that will lead to greater sustainability of state facilities," said state Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance Commissioner Carole Cornelison.

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